2014 NFLPA Bowl: Notes from the Week of Practices

Chris CoyleThe 2014 NFLPA Bowl attracted over 130 scouts with all 32 NFL teams represented.  There were a handful of recognizable names participating, but most of the week was highlighted by some of the more unheralded prospects.   

Below are rankings of the week’s top standouts based on their performances during NFLPA practices only.  They do not take into account college tape.

1. Tony Washington, 5’10, 195, WR, Appalachian State
Washington was the clear “winner” of the week.  He put together the most impressive overall performance of any prospect here and looked like a draftable receiver based on what he showed on the field this week.  He displayed the most consistent hands and, despite being undersized, made tough contested catches regularly.  He capped a strong week with a leaping touchdown grab that required him to make a 180 turn in the air and snag the ball away from tight coverage.  Most of his routes were crisp and he consistently earned the praise of his coaches for it.

2. Chris Coyle, 6’3, 230, H-Back/TE, Arizona State
Coyle did nothing to retract the projection of being a mid round H-back/tight end type of prospect.  He caught the ball cleanly and naturally and looked comfortable running a variety of routes.  Coyle showed savvy at the top of routes that caused defenders to bite in the wrong direction several times.  Make no mistake, he’s a receiver first and he’s not going to see the field much for his inline blocking, but he’s willing.  He had a number of scouts buzzing throughout the week.

3. Jonotthan Harrison-Nelson, 6’3, 304, OC, Florida
We view JHN as a late 3rd day prospect and he’s another prospect who validated that projection.  He lacks any special qualities and he wasn’t especially powerful in the run game, but he anchored well upon the initial surge in pass pro using hand extension and keeping his feet active to stay in front of defenders.  Jonotthan is an above average athlete and looked coordinated when asked to kick out on screens and pulls.

4. Demetrius Wright, 6’0, 195, S, Southern Cal
Wright was a late addition to the NFLPA Bowl roster and he stood out as a versatile safety who is just as capable playing in man as he is in zone.  As he shows on film, he played man in the slot blending proper physicality with efficient footwork to stay in the hip pocket.  Wright also displayed outstanding click and close ability with little wasted motion and took proper angles to receivers.

5. Roy Finch, 5’7, 170, RB, Oklahoma
The Sooner running back was also a late addition and immediately separated himself from the other backs with his natural athletic ability.  Our South scout, Alex Brown, likened him to a “slower” Trindon Holliday considering his diminutive stature combined with his effortless ability to cut on a dime at full speed and outrun pursuit angles.  Backs are always tough to gauge at All Star games due to the contact limitations below the waist, but Finch impressed with his overall toughness and also showed solid hands out of the backfield.    

6. Kenny Guiton, 6’3, 205, QB, Ohio State
Braxton Miller’s backup was one of the more intriguing names here and he probably had the best overall performance of all the quarterbacks, especially in the decision-making area.  Consistent with the tape, he had plenty of “wow” throws mixed with a handful of “who/what was he throwing to?” throws.  Guiton has an elongated, slightly 3-quarters release, and his footwork was inconsistent when he was pressured which caused him to miss high on occasion.  However, he had several really impressive throws.  His best had scouts buzzing as it was against pressure where he put just enough touch on a line drive 20 yards down the seam between 3 defenders where only his receiver could get it.  Overall, I like him as a developmental prospect, but the key is consistency with him.

7. Matt Paradis, 6’3, 300, C, Boise State
Boise State’s center quietly had a very solid week.  He showed a better anchor than expected and is a very tenacious hand fighter.  He used ideal knee bend and consistently attacks defenders beneath their pads.  He’s limited athletically and he could afford to continue to add bulk but he certainly has the attention of scouts as a possible flyer guy.

8. Isaiah Burse, 5’10, 175, WR, Fresno State
The frustrating thing with Burse is that everything screams “Davone Bess clone” until it comes time to make the tough catch.  As a smaller guy he must possess exceptional hands.  He also has a very small catch radius.  However, he showed extremely quick feet and ran crisp routes all week.  Those who follow Fresno State know how effective he is with the ball in his hands but he must improve his concentration if he wants a roster spot in the NFL. 

9. Kevin Danser, 6’6, 300, OG, Stanford
I hesitated putting Danser on this list because, frankly, he was disappointing considering I had viewed him easily as the top lineman here.  His flaws on tape (stopping his feet, waist bending, balance) were exposed too often by lesser talent.  However, you cannot teach his size and length and NFL coaches have plenty to be optimistic about.  For such an average athlete he was fluid on scoops and pulls and he continued to play assignment football.  He also got some reps at center this week where he actually looked more comfortable.

10. Jeremiah George, 5’11, 220, OLB, Iowa State
George had a productive career at Iowa State and proved to be the best athlete of the linebackers this week.  He’s undersized at under 6 feet and has a small frame to boot.  His athletic ability alone may not warrant a draft pick but he could end up as a top priority free agent.

Other Notable Players
Connor Shaw, 6’0, 209, QB, South Carolina
Probably the biggest name here, Shaw didn’t have the week many expected.  However, he’s a gamer known for his toughness and ability to create big plays under duress, especially during his senior season.  All Star practices aren’t conducive to that.

Asa Watson, 6’3, 235, TE, NC State
Each day, Watson kept flashing as an athletic, receiving tight end with the ability to line up inline or in the slot.  He consistently displayed good concentration attacking the ball at its highest point in traffic and he runs well for his size.

Brad Daly, 6’1, 235, OLB, Montana State
The Buchanan Award winner, Daly is an average athlete who is best in tight quarters.  He impressed as an edge rusher in one on one’s and during team sessions but he’s a liability in coverage due to stiffness and speed limitations.

Ja’Ronn Hamm, 6’3, 233, WR, Louisiana Monroe
Aside from Washington, Hamm had the most consistent hands all week winning at the catch point and showing toughness in traffic.  He had some trouble separating from corners but with his stature he may want to consider a switch to H-Back or a slot-only role to have any chance at a roster spot.